Becker's 11th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Stephen Klasko, President and Chief Executive Officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, serves as President and Chief Executive Officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.

Dr. Klasko will participate in a keynote interview at Becker's Hospital Review 11th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place virtually from May 10-27th.

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Klasko's session, click here.

Question: Share one change brought on by the coronavirus pandemic that you’d like to see stick, especially in healthcare?

Stephen Klasko: I believe that when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, patients will expect us to transform from COVID to consumerism. People will not go back to our fragmented, confusing and inequitable system, and as leaders, we need to be ready. Let’s assume that this is the Amazon moment, do we want to be SEARS and Penneys and ignore connected care? Or do you want to find the optimistic path to a future that's care at any address, at any time, with connection loops that keep people healthy?

Q: What is one essential trait leaders need to lead effectively in healthcare today?

SK: We will need to be creative, nimble and flexible (not traits that typically define academic medical centers or health systems in general.) As this future unfolds, if you're doing the same thing you were doing in 2019, you are going to be out of business. The future belongs to creative partnerships, many of them vertical instead of horizontal. At Jefferson, we are preparing for a future where costly “sick care” is giving way to affordable, personalized and preemptive care with genomics, sensors and AI digital-based therapies. That will entail new kinds of partnerships with tech companies, VCs, employers, community organizations and retail in order to have “healthcare at any address!”

Q: What would you like to see as the defining theme of 2021 for your industry?

SK: Trust, ethics and equity. The pandemic devastated vulnerable and underserved communities. Social determinants and health inequities need to move from a philosophic and academic exercise to the mainstream of care models, payment mechanisms and medical education. We can start with connected care. Broadband access needs to be universal like electricity and plumbing. In cities like Philadelphia, people living inside four walls were “virtually homeless,” as they could not access telehealth or online education for their children. During the lockdown, the digital divide became a wall that cut off older and poorer people from education, advice and care. But digital medicine is also our greatest opportunity to bridge that divide.

Stephen Klasko, President and Chief Executive Officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

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